“Why do what you do?”
A simple question. But with a not-so-simple answer.
“What makes you happy or fulfilled?” might be another way to ask the question. Do you work to pursue material success or work out of a fear of failure? Do the long hours that you put into work find their justification because you have a nice home, car, and electronics? Does the pursuit of happiness in your marriage and family have some purpose behind it? Or is it arbitrary?
Another way to ask the question is “What’s your goal in doing what you do?” If you cannot answer that question apart from saying, “Well, family is a good thing” or “I need to work or else I won’t have money,” then I fear that you will have missed the mark in this life and will perhaps head into ruin.
Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). Whatever you value most in life, whatever you say is good or a worthy pursuit (even if it’s a non-verbal assumption), it is there where your heart will be. You may treasure your family. So your heart will be there.
But again: Why is it a good thing for your heart to be with your family? Or anything else for that matter?
Any good thing can become a god-thing. Any good desire for family or for work can become a god, an idol of the heart. When your family is all that matters to you, then your heart is there, your god is there.
God summons us to think about why we work or why we love our families. The very simple tasks of work and family life are not good things in a vacuum. They have a context.
All things have a common goal, a common end. If your work or your family life doesn’t have a common goal, then they will conflict with each other and become a demigods.
If it is not obvious by now, I believe that pursuing God must be our ultimate goal in life, the ultimate good. We work in order to honour God and not for material success or for a fear of failure. Consequently, you should choose job not on the basis of what might increase your wealth, but on the basis of what might increase your pursuit of God through that job.
This might mean taking a job with less money because it will require less hours, hours that you will spend loving your family and volunteering in your church.
It might also mean that you need to say no to your kids when they want to participate in 9 different sports or some other good activity because you want to spend more time praying with them and equipping them in the faith.
It might mean that they don’t play hockey because Sunday morning worship is more important than Sunday morning sportsmanship. Where your kids are on Sunday is where their heart will be.
Are you teaching them to desire sport of faith? Do you want to shape their desires and loves so that they desire a sport or some other activity more than they desire God?
You have permission to say “No” to your kids. You have permission to not keep up with your neighbours who send their kids to 97 events a week to educate them. Because an education that creates god-ward desires beats out any other education. Teach your kids to desire worship first.
Be sure to answer the question, “Why do I do such and such?” If you don’t, you will pour heart into a good things that will become a god-thing. You won’t organize your life around the best thing, which is God. And you won’t shape your desires or loves.
Your heart needs to be with God: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deut 6:5-6).